When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was Red Dawn. It was terrible. The story line revolves around a group of high school kids in the midwest that are forced to fight with deer rifles and pick-up trucks when the Russians attack the United Sates. One of the first scenes in the movie is kids sitting in a classroom when Soviet soldiers parachute in and shoot up the school.
Maybe that’s why the Soviet Union fell. They went after small town high schools instead of, I don’t know, military bases or maybe even large cities. The group of young Americans that defended their homeland called themselves the Wolverines, after their high school mascot. The leaders of the group were played by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen.
I used to sit in class and dream about me and Sheen and Swayze fighting off the Soviets when they came to attack our school. Thankfully, the attack never came. It wasn’t necessary.
Ever since I saw Red Dawn for the first time, I’ve given some thought to how my country might come to an end. I always pictured some cataclysmic event. Instead, I’m afraid that, much like the Soviet Union, the United States has already fallen. And no one has really noticed. Pass the chips and turn the game on!
Sure, we haven’t officially fallen. We still watch baseball games, have cookouts and talk about reality television but those things never were the substance of our nation, only the surface. It’s beneath that surface, where the engine of our nation is, the part that not many people pay attention to, where the collapse has happened.
I was reminded of it this week as I heard reports of TSA agents trying to search a four-year-old girl and, get this, detaining her as a terror suspect after she ran away in fear. It didn’t exactly bring images of the “land of the free and the home of the brave” to mind. You’ll pardon my skeptical reaction to the TSA’s defense that their efforts, “followed proper current screening procedures.” It’s hard not to be skeptical when the agency doesn’t follow “proper current screening procedures” when some of its own agents want to smuggle drugs.
I’m sure the founding fathers would wonder what happened to the essence of the nation they built if they saw the potential law from the Department of Labor that would prevent children under the age of 16 from helping out on the family farm.
And of course there are the everyday threats American citizens face, including but not limited to the loss of the freedom to practice religion and the loss of the freedom of speech. Again, the source of these threats is not a foreign invader but our own government.
As Christians, this does not give us cause to stick our heads in the sand while we pray for Jesus to come back. It is the time to continue to carry out the Great Commission while we pray for Jesus to come back. We must remember that just because things are sideways in our country doesn’t mean that the second coming is just a few short minutes away. God is no American patriot. He’s much bigger than that. Things have been sideways in a lot of countries for a long time. We’re just now catching up.
We must remember that Romans 13 does not command us to sit back and watch our government run amuck, doing as they wish without a second thought to our constitution. Francis Schaeffer reminds us, “God has ordained the state as a delegated authority; it is not autonomous. The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny” (emphasis in the original).
This is a time for followers of Christ to stand strong in the gospel. It turns out that Mormon parents don’t like seeing their kids groped by the TSA either. While there are certainly opportunities for people of different beliefs to stand together for or against things, the true gospel must never be altered. What good is a little less grief from the government if you cut yourself off from Christ in the process? If the substance of your devotion to Christ runs only as deep as the great programs your church offers, expect to be confused and to eventually cave in when confronted with patriotic rhetoric mixed with false doctrine.
To be clear, this is not ultimately a Barak Obama or George Bush problem. It all runs much deeper. We as citizens are just as much to blame as any president is. Consider this for just one example. The birth of our nation can be traced back to a dispute over high taxes called The Boston Tea Party. But I wonder how many members of today’s Tea Party would step into a voting booth and vote themselves a tax increase as long as there is the promise of a new road, new stadium or new recreational baseball complex at the other end. More than I’d like to know, I’m sure.
The church will only stand out as we cling to the whole gospel, even at the expense of our comforts, security and perhaps even our lives. We misrepresent the gospel when we bad mouth our president. Rush and Hannity have the market cornered on that. We need to be different. We need wisdom and discernment so that we can stand against those policies that are in contradiction to the gospel without standing against the man whose pen signs them into law. Our battle is not flesh and blood. Father, lead your family in praying for President Obama to govern in submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Pastor, lead your church in the same direction. There’s something special about hearing your small children and groups of older veterans in your church praying for the president, especially when they disagree with him.
It’s been a couple of decades since I first saw Red Dawn. The Soviet Union and Swayze are gone and Sheen seems to be trying his hardest to follow in their footsteps. I’m afraid that America, the one that my grandfather fought for, may already be gone with them. But my hope is not found in the good old days of a few decades back. They never are really as good as we remember. The real good old days ended in Genesis 3 and it is Jesus, not a politician or a revolution that will bring them back when he returns and all nations, not just the Untied States, all nations will marvel at his glory.